Panthers’ Ben McAdoo still a big fan of Sterling Shepard

Paul Schwartz

By Paul Schwartz

There is only one player on the Giants’ roster who was on the scene in 2016 and 2017, when Ben McAdoo was the head coach: wide receiver Sterling Shepard, who was a rookie second-round pick out of Oklahoma in 2016, McAdoo’s first year as the replacement for Tom Coughlin.

McAdoo, in his first year as the Panthers’ offensive coordinator, will get to check in with Shepard when their teams meet on Sunday at MetLife Stadium. The Giants are 1-0, the Panthers 0-1.

Shepard, 29, tore his left Achilles tendon last December. He made a swift recovery and came up big in his 2022 debut with a touchdown on a 65-yard pass from Daniel Jones. Shepard had a career-high eight touchdown receptions as a rookie in 2016 playing for McAdoo.

“He’s a stud, man,’’ McAdoo said this week. “I love Sterling. He competes hard. He came in, from Day 1, he was a starter, the day he walked through the door it was never too big for him. He was raised the right way, played at a great school. Big fan of Sterling.’’

Ben McAdoo and Sterling Shepard

The beat goes on for WR Kadarius Toney. This will be his 20th NFL game, and it will be the 15th time leading into a game his name has appeared on the injury list. The hamstring issue that bothered him in training camp flared up again during practice Thursday, and he is listed as questionable to play.

Toney was healthy last week, but got on the field for just seven snaps in the opener.

Is it better to be good or lucky? The Giants were a mixture of both in their 21-20 season-opening victory over the Titans, as Randy Bullock missed a 47-yard field goal as time expired, a kick that could have sent the Giants home with a loss.

“We don’t say lucky, we just say ‘You’re living right,’ ” DT Dexter Lawrence said. “The football gods, you know?’’

The Giants will be without Nick McCloud, a first-year cornerback who excelled on special teams in the opener, but has been ruled out for this week with a strained hamstring. In the opener, he had two tackles and helped force four fair catches on punts.

“That’s something we hadn’t had in a while from that spot, and it was good to have,’’ special teams coach Thomas McGaughey said.

The Panthers struggled to establish much on offense in their 26-24 home loss to the Browns and were unable to consistently convert the most basic maneuver: the center-quarterback exchange.

The snap from Pat Elflein to Baker Mayfield was botched four times. The Panthers recovered all four fumbles, but it was a messy way to embark on the season.

“That’s not the way we wanted to look,’’ McAdoo said. “There’s no excuse for it,” McAdoo said. “We got to spend more time working it. The first game of the year the ball hit the ground way too many times. For us to walk around and say the ball is king and to allow that to happen is not good. We got to fix it.’’

As expected, CB Fabian Moreau and safety Tony Jefferson were activated off the practice squad. The two veteran defensive backs should see significant time on defense, with CB Aaron Robinson out after having his appendix removed. Rookie CB Cor’Dale Flott could start in Robinson’s spot.

There was an interested outside observer thrilled to see Brian Daboll win his first game as the Giants’ head coach.

“I’m rooting Dabes on … I love that guy,’’ Bills quarterback Josh Allen said after watching the Giants beat the Titans.

Daboll spent the past four years in Buffalo.

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